Australia is on track to become the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter by the end of our forecast period in 2021, surpassing Qatar as a series of major projects come online. The boom in the construction of LNG export capacity should drive investment over the coming years, with as much as US$200bn to be spent on new projects and upgrades. However, there are question marks over the costs of Australian LNG relative to other suppliers. While gas exports are set to rise rapidly, Australia will also have to contend with a growing reliance on oil imports as domestic production declines.
The main trends and developments we highlight for Australia's oil & gas sector are:
- Coal bed methane (CBM) will increasingly contribute to the country's gas output, particularly in the east of the country, where CBM output will feed a number of LNG export terminals that are now under development. We have upwardly revised our forecast for gas production and expect it to hit 116.95bn cubic metres (bcm) by 2016. Much of this gas will be exported as LNG, largely to Asian customers. By 2021, gas production is forecast to be 150.35bcm, with LNG exports surpassing 100bcm. The expansion of LNG projects may be delayed, either because of the weaker demand outlook or cost considerations, which pose a downside risk to our forecasts.
- As of July 2012, the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) has been extended to cover onshore petroleum projects and the North West Shelf project. Existing royalties and production excise will continue to apply from these areas, but will be creditable against future PRRT liabilities from each individual project. However, the Joint Petroleum Development Area in the Timor Sea remains exempt.
- Australia's carbon trading scheme – the world's second largest after the European Union – came into effect on July 1 2012. Under this scheme, businesses will pay AUD23 (US$24.18) per tonne of carbon produced. The price will rise by around 2.5% in real terms in 2014 and 2015, but will be determined by the market, subject to a price ceiling and floor, in 2015. This could push the country towards the greater use of gas for commercial and residential needs.
- According to the country's energy ministry, Australia is using oil three times faster than it is finding it. In 2011, oil production fell by an estimated 14.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) from 549,210 barrels per day (b/d) in 2010 to 469,440b/d in 2011. In contrast, oil consumption rose 3.8% y-o-y to hit 997,230b/d. Oil and gas liquids production is due to decline from 469,000b/d in 2011 to 458,700 b/d in 2016, eventually hitting 449,220/d in 2021.
- Government forecasts suggest petroleum import dependency rose to 50% in 2010, and this is expected to increase further to 78% by the end of our forecast period in 2021. In 2012, we expect Australia to import an average 534,950b/d at a cost of US$20.90bn at an OPEC basket oil price forecast of US$107.05/bbl. By 2016, the oil import requirement is expected to rise to 580,090b/d, costing some US$19.74bn (assuming an average OPEC basket oil price of US$93.25/bbl).
- Gas exports are forecast to rise to 79.46bcm by 2016, bringing in LNG revenues of around US$39.33bn. Net petroleum export proceeds by 2021 are forecast at US$27,854bn, with the higher LNG exports helping to offset the rising oil imports.
- The refining environment remains weak in Australia. Shell's 79,000b/d Clyde refinery in Sydney will close in September 2012, while Caltex announced that it will shut down the Kurnell refinery – Australia's second largest with a capacity of 124,500b/d and also located in Sydney – in the second half of 2014. The age, small size and relatively low complexity of the country's refineries has rendered them uncompetitive against regional counterparts.
Click for Report details:Australia Oil and Gas Report Q4 2012